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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Have Work and Learning Changed or the Way We Do Work and Learning?

I'm struggling a bit with the question of whether what we need to do around Work and Learning has changed or is it only that the Context and the Methods have changed.

Let me try to explain the question and then I'm hoping I'll get a bit of help on answers.

I believe that the Context we do our Work and Learning is changing:
  • Ever increasing pace of information creation
  • Greater volume of information
  • Improved accessibility of these large quantities of information
  • Wider and more varied sources of information
  • Larger numbers of people creating content
  • Greater access to wider networks of people
and I believe that there are many new methods, skills, tools, knowledge around how to accomplish our work and learning (see Needed Skills for New Media).

However, when I look at what I do day-to-day and what other people do day-to-day as part of their work and learning, I don't see it as really being different. Basically, I see us:
  • Staying generally knowledgeable on about my industry, my job skills, etc.
  • Performing research tasks to figure out things (tacit knowledge work), e.g., what eLearning tools should I be using.
  • Performing transactional information work where we get some piece of information and quickly do something with it, e.g., respond to email
  • Acquire knowledge/skills in new domains
That would have been accurate for many years, right? So is there really anything changed about these core tasks? And what do you call this core part? Is there a really good description of these work and learning tasks?

6 comments:

John Castledine said...

In the broadest sense it is often said that there are three types of workers: those in talent intensive roles, specialist-skill roles and low skilled roles.

Talent intensive roles would include researchers & consultants. Specialist skill roles include teachers & nurses.

These categories continue to be highly valued & required roles in 'the west' ... and thus for anyone in these roles I'd suspect that the work itself has changed little (compared with how the work is enabled through technological and other advances)

Daniel Pink (writing in Workforce Wake Up Call) coined a great phrase of 'Abundance, Asia & Automation' to explain the shift towards creative 'Right Brain' thinking roles in the West. Put another way - those in low-skilled roles in the West are seeing a change in the work itself...or rather the reducing availability and valuing of work that does not draw on the creativity and innovation of 'human resources'

People contribute a mix of 'brains' and 'brawn' to work. Machines have replaced left-brain logical tasks & much of the mechanical tasks are automated - job roles which featured these have changed. I'd suggest an example of this is farming.

hope this makes some sense

Tony Karrer said...

John, this is definitely a help towards structuring my rather raw thinking on this. I can see you structure helping to define what job roles this applies to the most.

My guess is that these categories of workers hasn't really changed, but the demand for and possibly the mix of particular jobs has changed.

However, if you look within a talent intensive or specialist role, do you believe that the work and learning they do (at its core level) has changed?

Christy Tucker said...

Could part of the difference also be in the power structures--who has the authority and expertise, and how does it get used?

Is the trainer or instructor always the expert?

In your job, how do you relate to people? What are the power structures in the organization or with clients? Has that changed? What's the relationship between the power and the learning?

Sorry Tony, I have no answers, only lots of questions. But I know you like good questions. :)

naveen said...

Ofcourse they do changes our creativity or external attitude.. Go through the Harry patt's book on web design companysite.. regarding 'technology and human attribution' for more.....

john castledine said...

I think the comment about Power structures is very insightful.

For example: medics 'power' is somewhat reduced by the explosion of information available on line - so they need to be much more skilled at managing expectations (patients saying 'I want/do not want drug X because ... ', vs. the doctor 'prescribing' what is best)

Ray Jimenez, PhD said...

I continue to struggle with the same issues. I often find myself spending more time synthesizing the huge body of data into what is relevant to me. Software can only go so far. My suspicion is that we have overemphasized our dependencies on software (Web 2.0, Net, etc.) and failing to develop skills like sensing, pattern detection, critical thinking, and making judgments.